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Publication numberUS6042292 A
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 08/624,923
Publication dateMar 28, 2000
Filing dateMar 29, 1996
Priority dateDec 9, 1994
Fee statusLapsed
Also published asUS5511272
Publication number08624923, 624923, US 6042292 A, US 6042292A, US-A-6042292, US6042292 A, US6042292A
InventorsMichael J. Belanger, Robert J. Wentworth
Original AssigneeBelanger, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Pre-engineered failure link for brush shaft
US 6042292 A
Abstract
A sacrificial link is disclosed for the shaft of a vehicle-cleaning brush unit, which link is pre-engineered to fail prior to the remainder of the shaft in response to bending forces exerted on the brush by a vehicle, for example. The shaft itself is therefore protected from permanent deformation or breakage, while the sacrificial link is easily removed and replaced with relatively little downtime and expense. In a preferred form the sacrificial link comprises a sacrificial shaft section having socket ends for removable connection to the upper portion of a brush shaft depending from a motor drive unit and the lower portion of the brush shaft connected to the brush, and a center region pre-engineered to fail before the upper and lower brush shaft sections. Novel clamping and release structure associated with the socket ends of the sacrificial shaft section is also disclosed.
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Claims(14)
We claim:
1. A vehicle-cleaning brush shaft comprising first and second shaft portions, the first shaft portion being adapted to be connected to a motor drive unit, and the second shaft portion being adapted to be connected to a vehicle-cleaning brush, the brush shaft further comprising a removable sacrificial link connecting the first and second shaft portions so as to permanently deform under external bending load prior to deformation of the first and second shaft portions, the sacrificial link comprising a sacrificial shaft section having two ends, each end being removably connected to one of the first and second shaft portions, and an elongated center region spacing the ends and pre-engineered to fail by deformation prior to deformation of the first and second shaft portions.
2. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein the center region of the sacrificial shaft section includes a region of reduced diameter.
3. Apparatus as defined in claim 2, wherein the ends of the sacrificial shaft section have a diameter greater than that of the center region, and further include tapered regions between the ends and the center region.
4. Apparatus as defined in claim 3, in which each end includes a socket adapted to receive one of the first and second shaft portions.
5. Apparatus as defined in claim 4, in which each of the sockets is divided into clamping halves.
6. Apparatus as defined in claim 5, wherein each of the sockets includes a clamping slot extending approximately the longitudinal length of the socket.
7. Apparatus as defined in claim 6, wherein the sockets include through-holes aligned to define a throughbore, and further including a bolt adapted to extend through the through-holes in each of the sockets.
8. Apparatus as defined in claim 7, wherein each of the sockets of the sacrificial link includes a tap hole.
9. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein the end of the sacrificial shaft section have a first diameter and include sockets therein adapted for removable connection to the first and second shaft portions, and wherein the center region of the sacrificial shaft section has a second diameter less than first diameter.
10. Apparatus as defined in claim 9, wherein the first and second shaft portions are of a third diameter less than the first diameter and greater than the second diameter.
11. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein the sacrificial shaft section further includes solid tapered regions between the end and the center region.
12. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein the center region of the sacrificial shaft section is a solid shaft.
13. A vehicle-cleaning brush shaft comprising first and second shaft portions, the first shaft portion being adapted to be connected to a motor drive unit, and the second shaft portion being adapted to be connected to a vehicle-cleaning brush, the brush shaft further comprising a removable sacrificial link connecting the first and second portions so as to permanently deform under external bending load prior to deformation of the first and second shaft portions, wherein the sacrificial link includes a center region of reduced diameter.
14. A removable sacrificial link for connecting first and second shaft portions of a vehicle-cleaning brush shaft so as to permanently deform under external bending load prior to deformation of the first and second shaft portions, the sacrificial link comprising a sacrificial shaft section having two ends for removable connection to the first and second shaft portions, and an elongated center region spacing the ends and pre-engineered to fail by deformation prior to deformation of the first and second shaft portions, wherein the center region of the sacrificial shaft section includes a region of reduced diameter, the ends of the sacrificial shaft section have a diameter greater than that of the center region, and further include tapered shoulder regions between the ends and the center region, each end including a socket having an inner diameter adapted to receive one of the first and second shaft portions, each socket being divided into clamping halves, each socket including a clamping slot extending approximately the longitudinal length of the socket each socket including through-holes aligned to define a throughbore with a portion of one of the first and second shaft portions when one of the first and second shaft portions is connected to the socket, further including a bolt extending through the throughbore to clamp the clamping halves with one of the first and second shaft portions, each socket further including a tap hole.
Description

This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 08/352,657 filed on Dec. 9, 1994, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,511,272.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to rotary brush units used in vehicle washes and the like. More specifically, the present invention relates to a brush shaft designed such that, under external force, permanent deformation is limited to a predetermined portion which can be easily removed and replaced without having to disassemble the entire brush unit.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A common problem in rotary brush units used in vehicle washes is the permanent deformation or breakage of the brush shaft. Frequently, vehicles which stray from the proper path or track or which are too large or driven too fast run into the brushes with excessive force, causing the brush shaft to bend or break.

A typical prior art overhead brush unit 10 shown in FIG. 1 comprises a motor drive unit, drive/support shaft, and brush. The rotating drive shaft 20 is suspended at its upper end 20a from an overhead, motorized drive unit 15. A brush 18 is attached to the shaft at its lower end 20b to rotate with the shaft. Though made of steel or a similar strong material, the drive shaft 20 can be bent when, for example, an automobile 1 runs into the brush 18. If the force of the collision is great enough, shaft 20 can be permanently bent or even broken at a bending moment region 27 between the brush and the drive unit. This type of damage requires disassembly of the entire brush unit 10 in order to replace the damaged shaft; removing the shaft from the drive unit is a particularly labor intensive operation. Such damage is also expensive from the standpoint of both replacement shaft cost and downtime during which the brush unit, and often the entire wash, is inoperative.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In the present invention the expense of replacing a bent or broken shaft is eliminated through the use of a sacrificial link, detachably interposed between first and second portions of the rotating brush shaft. This link is designed to permanently deform or break prior to the remainder of the shaft. To accomplish this, the sacrificial link is preferably incorporated between the first and second shaft portions at a point where the shaft is expected to experience significant bending moment in response to external force. The preferred form of this invention is further characterized by a sacrificial link having a center region whose diameter is smaller than the diameter of either the first or second shaft portions, making it significantly weaker and the first to bend. Once permanently deformed, the sacrificial link is easily replaced with a minimum of downtime and expense.

In a vehicle-cleaning brush unit having a brush-supporting shaft depending from a support unit, the brush shaft comprises separate first and second shaft portions connected to the brush and motor drive unit, respectively, and the sacrificial link is removably connected to the first and second shaft portions.

The sacrificial link in one form comprises a sacrificial shaft section having two ends connected to the first and second shaft portions of the brush unit, and a center region pre-engineered to fail before the first and second shafts by virtue of a reduced diameter. The ends of the sacrificial shaft section and the reduced diameter center region are preferably connected by regions of tapered diameter. The ends can include sockets whose diameter is approximately equal to the diameter of the first and second shaft portions.

In a further form of the invention the socket ends of the sacrificial shaft section are divided into clamping halves for improved, shear-resistant coupling to the rotating shaft portion. The socket ends preferably further include a tap hole to assist in removing a shaft section clamped therein should the parts become stuck or corroded.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts a prior art brush assembly and shaft being bent by an automobile;

FIG. 2 illustrates a sacrificial brush shaft link according to the present invention, as it is incorporated into a brush shaft, also being bent;

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the sacrificial link and brush shaft of FIG. 2; and

FIG. 4 is a more detailed perspective view of the sacrificial link of FIG. 2, showing its connections with a brush shaft in phantom.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 shows a typical prior art brush unit 10. As depicted, it includes a shaft 20 suspended at its upper region 20a by an overhead drive unit 15. A brush 18 is suspended from the opposite end 20b of shaft 20. Excessive force imposed on brush 18 by, for example, an automobile 1 can cause permanent deformation or breakage of the shaft 20. Because the shaft and brush are freely suspended from the drive unit 15, the bending moment is concentrated at a point 27 near the drive unit. Since the shaft is connected to both the drive unit 15 and brush 18, repair of the bent or broken shaft requires disassembly of the entire brush unit 10.

In the present invention, shown in FIG. 2, the rotating shaft 30 of the overhead brush unit 10 comprises three distinct portions: an upper shaft portion 31; connected to and protruding from the drive unit 15; a second shaft portion 32, connected to and protruding from the brush 18; and a sacrificial link 40 removably connected to the free ends of upper and lower shaft portions 31,32 to form a unitary drive/support shaft. Sacrificial link 40 is located where the greatest bending moment is anticipated, in the illustrated embodiment near drive unit 15 at a pre-engineered failure area 42.

This three-piece shaft structure alleviates problems of both downtime and replacement cost when repairing damaged brush shafts. Since excessive force on the brush 18 focuses the greatest bending moment at pre-engineered failure area 42 of the sacrificial link 40 between the first and second shaft portions 31, 32, deformation or breakage of the shaft 30 is limited to the sacrificial link 40, an easily replaceable element.

Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 4, the structure and function of the present invention is illustrated in greater detail. The sacrificial link 40 is generally cylindrical in shape, comprising a reduced diameter center region 42 and spaced, opposing ends 41. The center region 42 is solid, while each end region 41 includes a socket 44 for receiving a free end of the upper or lower shaft portions 31,32 of the brush unit. Each socket 44 has an inner diameter approximating the outer diameter of the upper and lower shaft portion received therein. In the illustrated embodiment, upper and lower shaft portions 31 and 32 are the same diameter and sockets 44 are accordingly identical. This symmetrical, reversible arrangement is preferred since it reduces cost and simplifies installation and replacement. It is possible, however, to use upper and lower shaft portions of different diameter or shape, and correspondingly different sockets 44 at the ends of the sacrificial link 40.

The circumferential socket wall of each end 41 includes a pair of opposed slots 45 extending from the end of each socket 44 downward along the long axis of the link 40. These slots effectively divide each socket wall into clamping halves to facilitate the secure attachment of the link 40 to the upper and lower shaft portions 31, 32 of the brush unit.

Each socket 44 also includes bolt through-holes 46, extending through the wall of each clamping half. Through-holes 46 are aligned along an axis perpendicular to the long axis of the link 40 and the plane of slots 45. Upper and lower shaft portions 31,32 include matching bolt through-holes 33 at their free ends. The sockets 44 in each end 41 of the link 40 are formed or milled to a depth permitting the alignment of through-holes 46 and through-holes 33 when each end 41 of link 40 is connected to the upper and lower shaft portions.

Link 40 in the illustrated embodiment is approximately twelve to fourteen inches in length and about two inches in diameter at its widest point (ends 41). It will be understood that other lengths and diameters can be used to accommodate brush-unit shafts of varying lengths and diameters.

While each of the socket ends 41 has an outside diameter of approximately two inches, the center region 42 is characterized by a reduced diameter, in the illustrated embodiment approximately 1.25 inches. The transition region from each socket end to the reduced diameter center region of link 40 is defined by a solid tapered shoulder region 43) in the illustrated embodiment approximately 1/2 inch in length. Other taper lengths are possible, depending on the desired deflection and strength characteristics of link 40 and its overall dimensions. However, the deflection characteristics of link 40 with the illustrative 1/2 inch taper have been determined to be preferred for the link dimensions recited above.

Upper and lower shaft portions 31,32 are preferably manufactured from solid rods of steel, for example 7075 steel, while the sacrificial link 40 in the illustrated embodiment is milled from a rod of commercially available steel known as "Stressproof". The following tables illustrate the deflection characteristics of this material in link 40 according to the invention versus those in a one-piece prior art brush shaft:

______________________________________                     Permanent SetForce Applied       Deflection Under Load                     Deflection______________________________________STANDARD 7075 STEEL SHAFT (Prior Art)400 psi     14"           0.5"500 psi       19.5"       1"550 psi     23"           1.5"600 psi       25.5"       2.5"SHAFT WITH 11/4" DIAMETER STRESSPROOFLINK WITH 1/2" TAPER300 psi        7.5"        0.25"400 psi     11"           0.5"500 psi     14"            0.75"600 psi       17.25"       2.75"______________________________________

The illustrative dimensions above result in a sacrificial link 40 whose bending strength is approximately 20%-30% less than that of shaft portions 31,32. This range has been found to provide an optimum balance between failure threshold and overall brush unit performance under normal operating conditions and forces.

Of course, various grades of steel and even other metal alloys may be used to practice the present invention. In addition, shafts of varying diameters are also possible. The following tables illustrate the deflection characteristics of some alternative diameters and materials tested for the sacrificial link described above, with the diameter given for the reduced center section 42:

______________________________________                     Permanent SetForce Applied       Deflection Under Load                     Deflection______________________________________11/2" DIA HRS200 psi     3.75"         0.25"300 psi     6"            0.75"400 psi     9"            1.5"Quit11/2  1/4  WALL THICKNESS HRS TUBING200 psi     3.25"         0300 psi     6"            0.25"400 psi     8.5"          0.75"500 psi     11.5"         1.5"600 psi     18.5"         6.25"Quit1 3/8" DIA STRESSPROOF200 psi     3.25"         0300 psi     5.75"         0400 psi     8.25"         0500 psi     10"             0.75" (0)*600 psi     18"           3" (0)*Quit______________________________________ *indicates clamping half failure

______________________________________                     Permanent SetForce Applied       Deflection Under Load                     Deflection______________________________________1" DIA STRESSPROOF200 psi     7.75"         0.25"300 psi     14.5"         2"Quit2" DIA 6061-T6 ROD200 psi     3.5"          0.75"300 psi     6.25"         1"400 psi     9.75"         2.5"500 psi     13.25"        4"Quit______________________________________

In operation, the sacrificial link 40 is detachably connected by socket ends 41 to the upper and lower brush unit shaft portions 31,32. As indicated above, the depth of each socket 44 in ends 41 is such that through-holes 46 can be aligned with each of the corresponding through-holes 33 in the upper and lower shaft sections. To insure a secure engagement between the sacrificial link and each of the first and second shaft portions, a nut and bolt assembly 50 is fastened through each bore defined by aligned through-holes 46 and 33. The slots 45 in the circumferential walls of each socket end 41 permit the halves of each socket end to be clamped together upon tightening of the nuts and bolts 50; securely clamping link 40 to shaft portions 31,32 during normal brush operation. This clamping arrangement eliminates shear forces on bolt 50, resulting in a stronger connection.

The vehicle wash environment in which brush shaft 30 operates is often a corrosive one, and can cause the ends of shaft portions 31,32 to become locked in sockets 44 even after bolts 50 are removed. Socket ends 41 are accordingly provided with tap holes 49 through which a bolt can be threaded into contact with the stuck shaft. Advancing the bolt against the shaft in socket end 41 separates the stuck parts.

It will be understood that the foregoing is merely an illustrative embodiment of the invention. Various other changes and alterations, apparent to those skilled in the art, can be made without departing from the scope of the following claims:

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7401457Aug 1, 2005Jul 22, 2008Cnh America LlcAuger finger with tether for retaining and retracting the finger when broken
US7937921 *May 10, 2011Agco CorporationBreak-away finger for retracting finger auger
US8353073Oct 30, 2008Jan 15, 2013Washtech Holding GmbhBrush arrangement for a carwash facility
US20070022727 *Aug 1, 2005Feb 1, 2007Bich Gary LAuger finger with tether for retaining and retracting the finger when broken
US20080295472 *Jun 4, 2008Dec 4, 2008Thompson Scott KRetention device for separating combine auger finger materials and agricultural material engagement method
US20090217639 *Mar 3, 2008Sep 3, 2009Agco CorporationBreak-Away Finger for Retracting Finger Auger
US20100199446 *Oct 30, 2008Aug 12, 2010Washtec Holding GmbhBrush arrangement for a carwash facility
WO2009065715A1 *Oct 30, 2008May 28, 2009Washtec Holding GmbhBrush arrangement for a carwash facility
WO2012093228A1Jan 3, 2012Jul 12, 2012TurbomecaMechanical protection method and device
WO2012143656A1Apr 12, 2012Oct 26, 2012TurbomecaMechanical protection device
Classifications
U.S. Classification403/2, 403/41, 403/305
International ClassificationB60S3/06, F16D9/00, F16D3/72
Cooperative ClassificationY10T403/5733, Y10T403/11, B60S3/063, Y10T403/27, F16D9/00, F16D3/72, Y10S15/02
European ClassificationF16D9/00, B60S3/06B, F16D3/72
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 2, 1999ASAssignment
Owner name: BELANGER, INC., MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BELANGER, MICHAEL J.;WENTWORTH, ROBERT J.;REEL/FRAME:009794/0361
Effective date: 19941209
Feb 6, 2001CCCertificate of correction
Aug 27, 2003FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Aug 29, 2007FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 8
Nov 7, 2011REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed
Mar 28, 2012LAPSLapse for failure to pay maintenance fees
May 15, 2012FPExpired due to failure to pay maintenance fee
Effective date: 20120328